Is My Pet Overweight?

Pet obesity is an epidemic in the United States. In fact, one out of every two dogs and cats are overweight, making it extremely difficult to recognize obesity and preventing proactive treatment. The following guidelines should allow you to evaluate your pet and determine whether lifestyle changes are in order.

DOG:

If your dog is too thin (1, 2, 3), you’ll be able to see the ribs, backbone, and hipbones very easily with no extra fat on the body. The muscle may have gotten smaller and the word “scrawny” describes your dog perfectly. From the top, you’ll see an obvious waist as the body significantly narrows between the ribs and the hips. From the side, the stomach area severely slopes upward toward the hips.

If your dog is the ideal weight (4, 5), you’ll be able to feel the ribs as you run your hand across their side. As you look at them from above, there is be a slight inward sloping waist. Additionally, as you look at your dog from the side, you’ll notice the stomach area slightly slopes upward toward the hips.

If your dog is above average (6), you’ll be able to feel the ribs beneath a slightly squishy fat layer. The waist is visible when viewed from above but isn’t prominent. The stomach tuck viewed from the side is present but is slight. Because this category is a transitional stage between normal and overweight, it isn’t necessarily dangerous but obviously is less desirable than the average category.

If your dog is overweight or obese (7, 8, 9), it may be difficult or impossible to feel the ribs beneath the excessive fat layer. The area over the hips and the base of the tail has fatty deposits similar to love handles in humans. There may be fatty deposits over the neck and legs. When viewed from above, the sides are wide as the shoulders and hips with no waist, and may actually balloon outward. As you look at your dog from the side, the stomach is parallel to the backbone or is drooping downward.

CAT:

If your cat is too thin (1, 2, 3), the ribs and backbone are easily visible with no extra fat. There may be very little muscle and the word “scrawny” describes your cat perfectly. When viewed from above, there is an hourglass-shaped waist as the body narrows between the ribs and the hips. From the side, the stomach area severely slopes upward toward the hips.

If your cat is the ideal weight (4, 5), the ribs are not visible but you’re able to feel the ribs as you run your hand across their side. As you look at them from above, there is be an obvious sloping waist. Additionally, as you look at your cat from the side, you’ll notice the stomach area slightly sloping upward toward the hips.

If your cat is above average (6), you’ll be able to feel the ribs beneath a slightly squishy fat layer. The waist is not clearly defined when viewed from above. The stomach tuck viewed from the side is present but is very slight. Because this category is a transitional stage between normal and overweight, it isn’t necessarily dangerous but obviously is less desirable than the average category.

If your cat is overweight or obese, it may be difficult or impossible to feel the ribs beneath the excessive fat layer. The waist is not visible and the stomach balloons outward when viewed from above, as if your cat swallowed a basketball. From the side, the stomach is parallel to the backbone or is drooping down and there may be fat deposits over the stomach area.

If your pet falls in the overweight or the obese category, you’re not alone. While carrying extra weight can cause your pets to develop serious, life-threatening diseases earlier in life, it isn’t a death sentence. There are many lifestyle changes that can reduce your pet’s weight and risk of serious illness. The Northside Animal Clinic is excited to offer weight loss diets, nutritional advice, and support to help you keep your pet healthy. Let us help you transform your pet’s health and quality of life.

Thanks to Royal Canin for their information and pictures.

ARE YOU THE WEAK LINK?

During the holiday season, the guests in your home may feel tempted to give your pet food from their plate. Sharing human food with your pet may appear harmless and while it may not always cause sickness, it encourages terrible begging behaviors and can cause rapid weight gain that has far-reaching effects. Excess weight can result in premature development of arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and many other irreversible conditions that make your pet’s life harder and your wallet emptier.

No pet parent feeds their animal with the intention of allowing them to develop these conditions. Often, the problem is that parents don’t know how much to feed so they just keep their pet’s food bowl full all the time. This is a recipe for disaster! I don’t know about you, but when I eat potato chips out of the family-sized bag, it’s almost impossible to stop. The same principle applies to your pets. Leaving a bowl of food out at all times means that whenever your pet gets bored or feels like a quick snack, they have the ability to eat as much as they want. Weight gain is slow and insidious, making it difficult to recognize weight gain as it happens and almost impossible to correct.

The easiest way to prevent this dilemma is to keep your pet from gaining the weight at all, but this can be difficult for many pet parents. If you don’t know how much food your pet should be getting, look at their bag of food. There will be a section that explains how much your pet should consume for its weight. In order to prevent underfeeding or overfeeding your animal, use a measuring cup to measure and dispense food. Estimating the amount of food is almost never accurate and should be avoided – after all, the whole point of measuring the food is to provide your pet with the nutrition it needs to stay healthy and slim.

Keeping your pet at a healthy weight for its size and breed is vital to keeping them healthy and active throughout their lives. If you’re unsure what food will help your pet get to an ideal size, come by the Northside Animal Clinic for a weight management consultation.

MY PET IS OVERWEIGHT: SO WHAT?

Many people believe that giving their pets table food, scraps, and treats will show the pet how much the owner loves them. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth. Not only would your animal prefer your attention, like playing fetch or getting a belly rub, but the human food can also cause serious health problems. There are two issues to keep in mind when thinking about the damage associated with overweight pets: health and wealth.

The excess weight your pet carries puts them at risk of developing serious diseases like arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, and more. While some animals are genetically predisposed to these conditions, it is usually possible to avoid the development of these diseases by providing a healthy diet and exercise. Unfortunately, most pet owners don’t recognize the devastating effects of pet obesity until the effects are irreversible.

Did you know that, when compared to owners of dogs at a healthy weight, owners of overweight dogs spend 17% more on healthcare and nearly 25% more on medicine over the course of the dogs’ lives. Cat owners are in the same position – owners of overweight cats spend 36% more on tests to rule out other diseases that could be causing the weight gain. One study even estimates that owners spend an additional $2,026 per year for dogs or $1,178 per year for cats on obesity related conditions.

Not only will keeping your pet at a healthy weight improve the quality and length of their life, but it’ll also make your wallet thicker. Remember, high quality food and exercise are much cheaper than the medicine to treat conditions developed due to excess amounts of poor quality food.

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